No matter what happens in the November elections, Donald Trump will be remembered as the president of the United States who brought the biggest positive turn in the Middle East for decades. Without him and his administration, a sensational turnaround in relations in the Middle East, that graveyard of international peace initiatives and projects, where the careers of dozens of world leaders, which we should remember as peacekeepers responsible for global prosperity, would not be possible. If the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on the establishment of diplomatic relations is a seed for new concessions, peace and cooperation in the Middle East, Donald Trump will without a doubt be remembered as the architect of this historical process. The Nobel Peace Prize goes without saying.
The Trump administration did almost impossible. It reconciled Israel and the UAE, with Israel’s promise to refrain from annexing Palestinian territories on the West Bank, and thus opened the door wide for overall Israeli-Arab reconciliation, and even for lasting peace in the region. The second and third richest countries (GDP per capita) in the Middle East, both very close allies of America and both great opponents of Iran, have reconciled. With this agreement, the UAE became only the third Arab state to recognize Israel after Egypt and Jordan, but with the same agreement, the powerful Saudi Arabia de facto “loosens” its rigid position towards the Jewish state, having in mind its fraternal relationship with the Emirates. It is possible that some more Arab states will soon move towards the normalization of relations with Israel, following in the footsteps of the Emirates, Bahrain and Oman are mentioned in that regard.
The winners are those who made the agreement – Israel, the Emirates and the United States. The losers and the loudest opponents are all those who do not want changes in the current, decades-old tragic instability of the Middle East, primarily Iran, but also extremists in all other countries in the region. As far as they are concerned, the turn brings new winds of peace and cooperation to the region, it brings an environment in which their extremism has nothing more to look for.
Although far from the Balkans, this positive political “earthquake” really deserves our full attention, because it has many similarities with our long-standing torments. Crowned with glory and respect for their success in the Middle East, Donald Trump and his administration will welcome the main actors of the Balkan unresolved issue on September 2. On the wave of Middle East success, Washington will no doubt strongly “push” the leaders from Belgrade and Pristina to move closer to an agreement that would mark a major turning point for the Balkans. President Trump and his associates certainly do not imagine the conversation in the White House on September 2, as just one of the countless sessions in which the technical issues of mutual relations are debated.
They leave such a slow and ineffective rhythm to the “patient” European Union. America, more precisely its president, wants two things: an agreement that will be born of negotiators, and not a laboratory in Washington or Brussels, as the only way for the agreed to be at the same time permanent. And secondly, to reach that agreement as soon as possible. If so far, there have been doubts about the determination of the United States to lead to a historic agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, after the Middle East triumph, that doubt is excluded.
The bureaucrats in Brussels are well aware of that, and it probably does not occur to them to repeat the operation of undermining of the original meeting in Washington on June 27. And they are unlikely to challenge American leadership in the Serbian-Albanian normalization process in the future. In addition to showing that they are capable of slowing down (not killing the dialogue), EU administrators have, in the meanwhile, managed to organize only one meeting in Brussels with President Vučić and Avdullah Hoti, before going on a traditional one-month vacation. The entire strategy of Brussels is calculated to waiting, this time for the outcome of the American presidential elections, in the hope that Trump will leave the White House, and with him the energy and enthusiasm to resolve the Kosovo issue by compromise, quickly and in the long run. This European strategy is by no means in the interest of Serbia, because, unlike the Brussels diplomats, the problems in Kosovo do not go on vacation. There, with all, already existing troubles, the routes of the highway are being planned through the protected area of the Dečani monastery. If it is the question of waiting, this time for a new occupant in the White House, then we do not even need the EU as a mediator in the Kosovo case.
Serbia is interested in the strategy that is on the table of the current American president, and especially Washington’s readiness for the Kosovo problem to be concluded with concessions in favor of Serbia. Such circumstances will not last long, regardless of whether Trump will get a new mandate or not. Serbia has a great chance to use the readiness of the largest and most powerful promoter of Kosovo’s independence, namely the United States, to push a compromise in which it will get something, which will allow it to come out of the century-old problem with its head held high and say that it is not defeated. It couldn’t even dream of that few years ago. Maybe it will be territorial concessions, maybe new arrangements for the protection of the Serb community in Kosovo, maybe some new, mixed mechanisms of governance in Serb communities, in large economic systems, and maybe all of the above…
Let us leave that difficult job to our negotiators, who are facing layers of negative legacy deposited for decades and who now have the opportunity to mitigate it to some extent. In addition to that burden, President Vučić has on his shoulders the constant hopes of some in Serbia that his leadership career will be broken on this issue and that it will take him into political retirement. The malice that hovers over him in Serbia in connection with the Kosovo negotiations is equal to the ignorance and unwillingness of each of Vučić’s opponents to face this problem, let alone offer any feasible solution. The “Kosovo status quo” is the only common point of the anti-Vučić opposition, whether it is on the left, right, ultra-right, or usually a little bit everywhere.
Their dream that the Serbian president will get stuck on the issue of Kosovo and thus open the door to their final coming to power, will not make the Kosovo drama resolve on its own, and thus only a dream remains. Each new day of Kosovo’s status quo is another day of tension and anxiety for Serbs living there. The postponement of the solution is also the continuation of spending Serbia’s enormous energy on a historical problem to which it itself has greatly contributed. Leaving to time and waiting for some “new circumstances” in the world is just opening the door to those influences that do not want an orderly and prosperous Serbia, a member of the European Union, because they neither want nor know how to cooperate with such Serbia.
Vučić’s long-term effort to make a lasting compromise with the Albanians regarding Kosovo is his highest political ambition, but that is his business. However, that ambition must be supported because it coincides with the best interests of Serbia and everyone who lives in it, both now and especially in the future. He already has that support from the most influential people in the world, in Washington, for example. Why wouldn’t he have it in Serbia as well? And Russophiles, who want a frozen conflict in Kosovo, not even knowing what it means, who want Vučić to “break his back” in Kosovo, those whose Russophilia is reflected in worshiping Putin, and those older in worshiping Stalin, I will remind of the words of one of the greatest Russians because of which I am a Russophile, Dostoevsky! He said: “No one has returned to live in the past. So don’t think about the past, just look to the future. All the ideals of this world are not worth the tears of one child.” Therefore, let’s not overthrow Vučić on Kosovo, let’s all be with him and help him solve that problem. He took on a big enough burden. The biggest. Because of our future and the future of our children, as the great Dostoevsky says!